Commuter Solutions

Leading Transportation Professionals Discuss the Latest Developments in the Sharing Economy

Every year, leading transportation professionals gather in Washington, D.C. to discuss and examine transportation issues during the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Annual Meeting. As part of the 2016 TRB meeting, I hosted a workshop with Prachi Vakharia of RideAmigos on behalf of several TRB committees. The workshop examined the latest developments in mobility and how to use research and policy tools to effectively shape its future.

The workshop was designed to facilitate a dialogue about the latest advances in technology, like the use of smartphones to access public transportation options and the development of automated vehicles. It also identified some of the challenges of shared mobility and its progression in servicing lower-income individuals, communities of color, and suburban and rural areas.

The workshop aimed to connect those in the public and private sectors and to identify shared visions in improving shared mobility and public transportation options. To help accomplish this, the workshop featured a combination of plenary and breakout sessions that evaluated the impacts of technology on shared mobility, examined the reach of shared mobility beyond dense urban centers, and discussed current research and policies regarding evolving technology.

Five highlights from the workshop include:

  1. Technology development—primarily as it relates to smartphones and automated vehicles—is moving at a rapid pace, and if the benefits of these technologies are to be realized in a timely manner, it is critical that governmental agencies and policy makers keep pace by implementing flexible but sensible regulations.
  2. While recent developments have been primarily focused on younger adults traveling in the urban core, shared modes of transportation are slowly trickling outward to the suburbs. Furthermore, some technologies, which are popular with younger demographics, like automated vehicles, are also popular with older demographics.
  3. As shared mobility and public transportation options increasingly rely on the smartphone as a means of access, it is critical to ensure that those who do not own smartphones are still able to readily access these modes.
  4. One of the latest developments in transportation is the growth of ridesplitting options, like Lyft Line and uberPOOL, as well as the evolution of some traditional taxi companies toward mobile apps (e-Hail) and ridesourcing.
  5. A key component of future mobility will likely be the use of smartphone apps, which offer means of routing, booking, and payment for multiple transportation modes, in one central location.

This workshop initiated a spirited dialogue among experts and practitioners from diverse backgrounds and offered critical insights into transportation developments, challenges, and the road ahead for multi-modal mobility and the sharing economy. Moving forward, it is important that research and modeling tools are further developed to fully understand and articulate the impacts of these evolving modes so that all socio-demographic groups can garner their benefits.

To read the full report about the workshop, click here, and for more research and current events in shared mobility, go to

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.